The Honorees Every year, Sanctuary for Families honors those who have made major contributions to
Every year, Sanctuary for Families honors those who have made major contributions to the movement to end gender based violence at our annual Zero Tolerance Benefit. This year we were thrilled to present the Law Firm Leadership Award to Lynn and John Savarese.
Since meeting as first-year Harvard Law students, Lynn and John have devoted significant time and resources to advancing social justice. Together they have raised awareness about gender violence, secured justice for victims of abuse, and have provided unique platforms and opportunities for survivors to speak out. We are incredibly grateful for Lynn and John’s longtime support of Sanctuary and thrilled to have had the opportunity to honor two individuals whose lives’ work so connect with this year’s theme of “Breaking the Silence.”
Originally from a small town in Texas, Lynn is a graduate of Harvard Law School. For many years she enjoyed careers in corporate law and investment banking before taking time off to raise her family and pursue volunteer work for various human rights organizations. Several years ago Lynn took up photography in earnest, and quickly garnered international acclaim for her fine arts images.
Lynn first became involved with Sanctuary as a pro bono attorney. When her interest in photography grew from hobby to profession, she partnered with Sanctuary to launch a groundbreaking photography project called the New Abolitionists Campaign.
Employing Lynn’s photographs of anti-trafficking advocates and survivors, the Campaign has become an ever-growing tool for advocacy and awareness about sex trafficking, a modern form of slavery in the United States. Photographs of New Abolitionists have been exhibited at galleries and venues across the country and have been seen by tens of thousands of people.
After graduating from Harvard Law School, John joined the Litigation Department of Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz. Over the last 25 years, John has represented numerous Fortune 500 corporations, major financial institutions and senior executives in SEC and other regulatory enforcement proceedings, as well as white-collar criminal investigations, complex securities litigations, and internal investigations. Despite the workload, John has always made time for the issues he cares about and has taken on numerous pro bono cases for Sanctuary over the years.
In addition to his work with Sanctuary, John is the chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Vera Institute of Justice, a member of the Dean’s Advisory Board at Harvard Law School, a member of the Board of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, and the former President of the Board of Trustees of The Brearley School in New York.
With their impressive portfolio of human rights work, the Savareses have shown time and again their commitment to ending gender-based violence. We thank Lynn and John for the immense amount of time and energy they’ve given towards realizing our shared dream of a more socially just world. Our community is all the better for it.
For a summary and photos of our 2018 Zero Tolerance Benefit, click here.
THE HISTORY In 1973, in the landmark case of Roe v. Wade, the United States’
In 1973, in the landmark case of Roe v. Wade, the United States’ Supreme Court ruled in favor of a woman’s right to have an abortion.
Forty-five years later, the national debate sparked by the Supreme Court’s decision wages on. As traditionally conservative states continue to pass legislation aimed at closing abortion clinics, more and more women have broken the silence around what has historically been deemed a “taboo” topic. These women, many of whom have had abortions themselves, believe that it has been their ability to control their own bodies through access to safe and legal abortion that has allowed them to become the successful and independent women they are today.
Sanctuary is proud to honor one of these women, Janice Mac Avoy, as the 2018 recipient of the Zero Tolerance Award for her work in the legal battle to uphold abortion rights for all women.
JANICE MAC AVOY
Janice Mac Avoy is a New York-based partner at the law firm of Fried Frank, where she is a member of the Real Estate Department and the Litigation Department, head of the Real Estate Litigation Practice Group, and co-chair of the Firm’s Pro Bono Committee. She is a member of the American Law Institute and the Association of Real Estate Women, a former member of the Board of directors of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund and current board member of Sanctuary for Families and the Center for Reproductive Rights, as well as a member and voting representative of the CRE Finance Council.
Janice graduated summa cum laude from Washington University and received her JD from Columbia Law School, where she was a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar and associate editor of the Columbia Law Review.
Two years ago, Janice was the lead signer on an amicus (friend of the court) brief to the United States Supreme Court in the Whole Women’s Health case – an important Supreme Court case addressing Texas’ restrictive abortion laws, which would have closed 75% of the abortion clinics in the state. Janice wrote an article for the Washington Post discussing her role in the amicus brief and how the right to abortion changed her life and why it needs to be upheld. Recently, Sanctuary got the chance to interview Janice and find out more about her personal and legal connection to the ongoing battle over women’s right to abortion:
How did you first get involved with Sanctuary for Families?
I first got involved with Sanctuary about thirty-one years ago, when I was a student at Columbia Law School. During my time there, I participated in a family law clinic to get orders of protection for women who had been subjected to domestic assault. Ultimately, about fifteen years later, I was very involved in Fried Frank’s efforts to fund the beginning of the Courtroom Advocates Project at Sanctuary, which formalized the practice of students assisting victims of domestic violence obtain orders of protection. I started doing pro-bono work with Sanctuary right out of law school, and I have continued working with Sanctuary ever since.
What is/are you connection(s) to domestic violence?
I have always tried to be an advocate for victims of domestic violence since law school, and I continue to work with Sanctuary and other service providers to help victims of domestic violence escape their abusers. I have worked on almost 500 divorces, mostly for victims of domestic violence. I also believe that in order for women to fulfill their potential, they need to control their bodies, not only by being free of physical abuse or exploitation, but also by choosing when or if to have children. In addition to the friend of the court brief in Whole Women’s Health, which was signed by me and over 100 female attorneys who had exercised their constitutional right to have an abortion, I have also acted as counsel to other organizations that have submitted friend of the court briefs to the United States Supreme Court and other courts in support of protecting abortion rights, including the National Abortion Federation, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and other medical professionals who support women’s access to safe, legal abortion.
The issue of a woman’s right to have an abortion is not an abstract one; it is a very real issue for women from all walks of life. The women lawyer’s brief got a lot of press, and I realized I had to keep speaking out on the issue, which then led to the Washington Post article, the CNN article, and a number of public speaking engagements discussing how critical it is to talk about abortion. The importance of access to reproductive rights is vital to a woman’s ability to control her destiny. Much of my work and the work done at organizations like Sanctuary is all about empowering women to be free of the patriarchal systems that currently dominate our political and social landscapes.
The theme for this year’s Zero Tolerance benefit is “Breaking the Silence.” What made you want to break the silence around what has for so long been deemed the “taboo” topic of abortion?
When the president of the Center for Reproductive Rights contacted me about being the lead signer on the Whole Women’s Health brief, I was very nervous about public reaction, but I knew I was going to do it anyway. I decided I wanted to talk to my family before agreeing to do it.
We all sat around the dinner table – me, my husband, my daughter, who was 16 at the time, and my son, who was 13. I sat them down and told them: “This is a big deal. My name is going to be out there, so it could affect you too.” My husband responded by saying that it was my decision and he supported whatever I wanted to do, and my daughter said that she would be disappointed in me if I didn’t do it. Everyone was incredibly supportive of my decision to speak out about my abortion. I even spoke with my mother, who absolutely supported my wish to speak out. “I wish I had the choices that you had,” she told me.
The firm’s support was also a big help. After the brief and before the decision, so many at Fried Frank were supportive in not only publicizing the firm’s role in the Supreme Court brief, but also furthering our efforts within the context of gender rights.
What do you hope other women can gain from your story, and those of other women who have broken the silence surrounding abortion rights?
We need to stop being ashamed. No matter what the issue is. Sanctuary has played an important role in breaking the silence on domestic violence and sex trafficking, and I hope to continue breaking the silence on abortion. Women shouldn’t be made to feel ashamed because they chose to have an abortion, just like they should not be shamed if they decided to have a child. This issue needs to be talked about. We have to take the shame away, and breaking the silence is a primary way to do that.
For a summary and photos of our 2018 Zero Tolerance Benefit, click here.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Get involved and help us break the cycle of violence!
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM) and this year, we’re asking you to join our effort in breaking the intergenerational cycle of domestic violence.
Across the U.S. an estimated 15.5 million children are living in families where domestic violence was perpetrated in the last year. As witnesses and survivors of domestic violence themselves, many children bear acute trauma well into adulthood thus putting them at grave risk of repeating patterns of violence themselves both as abusers and as victims.
Over the course of the month of October, we’ll share over social media four ways you can help break the cycle of violence. If you aren’t already, follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for updates on our campaign.
In the meantime, here are a few ways you can take action:
Thanks to a generous grant from DA Cy Vance, Sanctuary and STEPS to End Family Violence are thrilled to be launching the FamilySafe Program which will offer family-focused therapy treatment to victims of domestic violence and their children.
“By [investing in youth and families] we believe that we can limit [children] becoming involved in the criminal justice system in the first place… Law enforcement has to understand that we’re not going to prosecute and arrest our way out of the problems that we have in our society, we’re going to have to get serious about investing in our kids.”
– Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance
Back in February, Manhattan DA Cy Vance announced the grant awardees of a $58 million dollar investment into youth and families to prevent crime in Manhattan. As a recipient of nearly $1.5 million in funding over three years, Sanctuary, in partnership with STEPS to End Family Violence, is preparing to launch the FamilySafe Program. Speaking at the grantee ceremony earlier this year, Sanctuary Executive Director Hon. Judy Harris Kluger shared how the FamilySafe Program will help heal and empower New York families.
“Every year, tens of thousands of children right here in New York City witness the horror of domestic violence in their own homes. The damage is incalculable.
Exposure to domestic violence in a child’s life is associated with increased levels of high-risk behavior, like substance abuse and gang involvement. One study found men who were exposed to abuse and domestic violence as children were almost four-times more likely to become abusers than men who had not been exposed.
Thanks to the Manhattan District Attorney’s generous grant, Sanctuary for Families will work in partnership with STEPS to End Family Violence, to launch the FamilySafe Program. The program expands on our existing clinical services that strengthen relationships between parents who suffer domestic abuse and their children who witness it.
This grant will allow us to serve 225 new families – every year – providing them with intensive evidence-based treatment or with assessments for family therapy and parenting services.
This initiative will go a long way to reduce the trauma in children, improve parents’ confidence and optimism, and break the inter-generational cycle of violence for the families we serve.”
Building on over 30 years of clinical services and expertise
The launch of the FamilySafe program marks an exciting and important step forward for our clinical department. Over the last decade, research into traumatic stress and PTSD has given way to a greater understanding of the symptoms and effects of trauma as well as several therapy methods (also called evidence-based treatment) that have been proven to be effective in treating trauma victims AND their families.
Since 1985, Sanctuary has provided specialized services to children who have been victims or witnesses of domestic violence in their homes. Acutely aware of how domestic violence affects entire families, we have built a strong portfolio of trauma-focused, culturally and linguistically sensitive clinical services for domestic violence victims and their children. This portfolio is one that we are proud of and one that we continually seek to improve upon and expand. With the launch of the FamilySafe Program, our Clinical team hopes to begin a larger transition from separate counseling services for adults and their children to an attachment-focused family therapy approach (also known as dyadic family therapy) that both treats the trauma children have experienced and rebuilds the trust and attachment between the non-abusing parent and child.
Rolling out the FamilySafe Program
At this time, the roll-out of the FamilySafe Program is just beginning. Sanctuary is currently developing an assessment tool which we will integrate into our intake screenings so that we can identify families who would benefit from dyadic family therapy. With the assessment tool in place, specialized staff on-boarded, and our clinical department trained on the new process, we will begin intake.
Between Sanctuary and STEPS to End Family Violence, we aim to assess 225 families and provide intensive evidence-based, family attachment-focused treatment to 150 of those families annually. In addition to specialized treatments, STEPS and Sanctuary will each offer two tothree cycles of Parenting Journey, a program which helps parents build stronger families by developing the inner strengths, life skills, and networks of resources they need to succeed. In each cycle, 8-10 families will meet for two hours a week for three to four months. Parents will be able to participate in activities, discussions, and family-style meals with complimentary childcare included.
Over the next two and a half years of the FamilySafe Program, Sanctuary will track and assess the program’s impacts. Assuming we see the positive effects we expect, we will look for ways to continue and expand the program.
Keep an eye out for more updates as we roll out this exciting new initiative!